Harry Potter Mania Takes Over London, the Web, the World


For a generation of muggles, the Harry Potter brand has defined childhood.

Thousands of those fans camped out this week in London’s Trafalgar and Leicester Squares, just to catch a glimpse of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as they and their co-stars hit the red carpet today for the worldwide premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the eighth and final film in the quintessential battle between good and evil wizarding.[more]

The premiere is being streamed live on YouTube, for fans around the world who want to virtually attend what’s likely to go down as the biggest film premiere in history (they can also rent and watch the first seven Potter films on YouTube to relive the series). There’s also a #HarryPotterLive Twitter hashtag to follow the fan frenzy virtually.

The film opens in the US next Friday, as the tagline “IT ALL ENDS 7.15” has been booming from posters and billboards, the sides of buses and the tops of taxis, as the end looms for the biggest book/film franchise of all time. More than 450 million copies of Harry Potter books have been sold, making author JK Rowling the first person to earn $1 billion from writing.

Rowling’s recent announcement of the next iteration of Harry Potter, with the Pottermore portal to woo fans from print to an interactive, online HP experience, continues to rile the very industry that fed her success — traditional bookstores — as Pottermore eschews bricks and mortar for digital.

At her recent London press conference for the announcement, Rowling referred to her special relationship with online fans, saying she’s “phenomenally lucky in that I have the resources to do it myself and therefore I got to do it, I think, right. I think this is a fantastic and unique experience that I can afford in every sense.”

For Rowling, the time is right to finally embrace e-books, with Pottermore giving her a direct sales channel for e-books, which now account for 20% of all book sales, a jump from less than 1% in 2007.

“The Potter books took children’s books in general to another level and we’ve never gone back,” commented Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books. “And I think the news today could be the tipping point for the 8-to-12-year-old market.”

A beta version of the interactive site launches July 31, which Harry Potter fans will recognize as Harry’s birthday, and the e-books will be available in October, directly from Pottermore, with Harry Potter publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing in the UK and Scholastic in the US, sharing revenues.

Rowling has confirmed that she will debut “additional information that I have been hoarding for years about the world of Harry Potter” online.

“Pottermore will be the place that fans of any age can share, participate in and rediscover the stories,” the Scottish author said. “It will also be the exclusive place to purchase digital audio books and, for the first time, eBooks of the Harry Potter series.”

“On entering, you choose a magic username and begin your experience,” partner Sony confirmed. “As you move through the chapters, you can read and share exclusive writing from JK Rowling, and, just as Harry joins Hogwarts, so can you. You visit Diagon Alley, get sorted into a house, and cast spells and mix potions to help your house compete for the House Cup.”

With the end of the film era for Harry & Co., one more rite of book publishing also bites the dust (jacket): the thousands of midnight book parties at mortar and brick stores where eager readers waited on line for hours, in costume, just to hold the latest Harry Potter books in their hands.

Will they migrate to Pottermore? Stay tuned…

Some Potter film series facts from Reuters:

600 school uniforms made for Hogwarts pupils 

588 sets created for the seven films

5,800 scars painted on Daniel Radcliffe’s forehead

160 glasses worn by Radcliffe

250 animals used during filming

• and almost 70 wands used by Radcliffe.